David Noll of Pacific Resources International: “It was a long-term goal to sell the best and forget the rest!”

I never really put a lot of thought in the money side of the business. Had great products from NZ that once in consumers hands, they sold themselves. I knew with a little bit of hard work in getting the message out that the rest would come in due time. It was a long-term goal […]

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I never really put a lot of thought in the money side of the business. Had great products from NZ that once in consumers hands, they sold themselves. I knew with a little bit of hard work in getting the message out that the rest would come in due time. It was a long-term goal to sell the best and forget the rest!

As a part of my series called “Five Strategies I Used To Grow My Business To Reach Seven Figures In Revenue”, I had the pleasure of interviewing David Noll, Director of Pacific Resources International. Having lived in New Zealand for 13 years. David fell in love with the friendly people of NZ and the clean, green, high quality products and was able to use his experience to bring these products to the US. For the past 30+ years David has helped many NZ companies get started in the US.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

In 1986, I came back to the US to visit my parents with the three new grandchildren in tow. Some friends stuffed my bags with some of their products to see what I could do with them. I never had the intention to stay in the US, but the reaction to the high-quality products was strong. A 3 month visit quickly turned into 30+ years with another 3 children and now 13 grandchildren. I have always been involved in the nutrition industry and the amazing NZ products enabled me to pursue that.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?

After the first eight years of importing and developing the market for NZ’s great quality bee products and their ultra clean sea salt, Manuka Honey started showing some remarkable powers not found in any other honey. Once an inexpensive baker’s honey has now turned into a million-dollar industry worldwide.

The secret, MGO, a non-peroxide, anti-bacterial ingredient not found in other honey. Manuka is now part of cough and cold products, candies, cosmetics and more.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There were many that helped in the start up days mainly because things were simple in the heath food industry.

During those early years there were many of us going in the same direction that were interested in high quality products that helped people improve their health. One of the retailers I called on was Mothers Market here in Southern Ca. I rolled up in my big blue dodge van full of NZ products and received a great order. No free fills, reviews, advertising. Simply good, clean business. They are still one of our best clients today.

Others that were receptive and helpful. Bristol Farms, Erewhon, Follow your Heart, Mrs. Gooch’s and Jimbo’s.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I have always looked for things I could do that would improve people’s lives. NZ has always been a breadbasket to the world with some of the cleanest and best food products found today. It has been a privilege to represent their products. Always follow your heart and do something you enjoy doing. We all have special gifts that can improve the world around us.

Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. We’d love to learn a bit about your company. What is the pain point that your company is helping to address?

The pain point is trying to get the message out about Manuka honey to the general population. Manuka is a multimillion-dollar industry in the US and helping so many. But that is still less than 20% of the US population. We want to help as many as possible improve their healthy lifestyle.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Right now, it is Manuka honey. As more and more people are helped by this great product, PRI and NZ get more attention for high quality products. There is nothing else in the world that helps like Manuka honey! We also go out of our way to ensure that every jar of Manuka has a COA from an independent lab for transparency. Consumers need to know that the Manuka they receive will meet their requirements.

When you first started the business, what drove you, what was your primary motivation?

I am a start up person. I love the thrill of breaking new ground and going places no one has gone before. When I started most people had no idea of where NZ was or that it existed. For several years, I was the sole man waving the NZ quality flag. It has been and still is an exciting groundbreaking adventure as we stand on the border of the mass market world. We have never stopped breaking new ground for these great products.

What drives you now? Is it the same? Did it change? Can you explain what you mean?

As above. We all like making money. But it is even more rewarding to see people being helped to overcome their problems at the same time by selling products that work.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

There are always new products in the pipeline. One I currently like is a sugar free version of our Manuka Honey throat lozenge. They have been a number one seller for years because they work. But now our sugar conscious friends will be able to enjoy them as well.

The topic of this series is ‘Five Strategies I Used To Grow My Business To Reach Seven Figures In Revenue’. Congratulations! Seven figures is really a huge milestone. In your experience what was the most difficult part of being able to hit your first million-dollars in sales revenue?

I never really put a lot of thought in the money side of the business. Had great products from NZ that once in consumers hands, they sold themselves. I knew with a little bit of hard work in getting the message out that the rest would come in due time. It was a long-term goal to sell the best and forget the rest!

Could you share the number one sales strategy that you found helpful to help you reach this milestone?

I sold the clean green image that NZ has always enjoyed. Anyone can brand a product and tell you it is the best. But NZ produces the best and people appreciate products that have a story behind them from their source.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you or your team made during a sales process? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I guess it was at one of the original Expo West shows. I used to take my children. During the showing, if they got tired, they would make a bed under the tables and have a nap. Well as I was taking an order from a good client, a small leg popped out from under the tablecloth!

Very professional.

Does your company have a sales team? If yes, do you have any advice about how companies can create very high performing sales teams?

We have brokers that help cover the US. and the mantra is education, education, education. It is a must to build a realistic story around the products and the revenue they will bring in.

Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Strategies I Used To Grow My Business To Reach Seven Figures In Revenue”. Please share a story or an example for each.

Find products that actually work, and you can believe in.

This was easy for me as NZ had so many great high quality food products.

Have a strong story for why your products are great.

NZ has a great clean green story of producing only the best for export.

Make sure the price is competitive with other similar products.

We had to work hard on this one as many of suppliers are smaller and produce great quality products. It meant taking a lot risks with low margins to get the products at an affordable price for the average consumer. With all the slotting fees and costs of getting major distribution these days it may have been a different story.

Get good people around you that can share your vision.

In my case I had a lot of family to help get us started and there are still 5 of us pulling the chart. But I have also had several great employees that loved working here. One, started in the warehouse packing boxes and now does a lot of our artwork. I have encouraged all my employees to stretch themselves and grow into different areas. Some of the office girls loved driving the forklift! And always treated all like family.

Ensure that you can meet demand if and when the products hit large volumes.

This is the biggest problem for many companies as the struggle to get their numbers up. They suddenly get the break to launch into major retail and cannot supply. We ended up manufacturing some of the NZ products here using the primary imported NZ ingredients.

What would you advise to another business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth or sales and “restart their engines”?

Some products just run their course over time. But the key is always to update packaging and constantly be adding in new products. Some will work and others won’t. Never depend on just one item. Always keep an eye on your category to make sure you are staying on the cutting edge. Make sure you are targeting the right markets.

In your specific industry what methods have you found to be most effective in order to find and attract the right customers? Can you share any stories or examples?

Print has always been the most successful until social media and Google came along. These two have made it more difficult to find a good space that fits your products. A lot of the social media gets your name out there, but we have found that it does not always result in sales. If you have the budget, TV and radio can bring big spikes. Word of mouth in many cases is your best tool. Good products that work and great customer service is the winning combo.

Based on your experience, can you share a few strategies to give your customers the best possible user experience and customer service?

Take the time to listen to the customer. This helps to make sure the customer understands how best to use a product, and which one suits their needs.

As you likely know, this HBR article demonstrates that studies have shown that retaining customers can be far more lucrative than finding new ones. Do you use any specific initiatives to limit customer attrition or customer churn? Can you share some of your advice from your experience about how to limit customer churn?

There will always be the QVC type consumer that will buy a product just because they hear about it. It is impossible to keep these on as everyday customers. Making sure your products have the quality to give real effects that help them. You will always have the few that are never happy but seem to stick around. Make sure you stay in contact with your base. Always updating them and offering specials to keep the faith. Social media has made that simple these days. We have been blessed as our customer base has never stopped growing. And we own that to great quality products from a great country.

Wonderful. We are nearly done. Here are the final “meaty” questions of our discussion. You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

It would be a movement on self-nutrition. There is no one better to look after your health than you. The doctors and hospitals would have half the work they have now if people took charge of their health. You cannot live a long and productive life living on junk food. But most just do not have the knowledge make the change. Just think how much less health insurance would be if the number of sick people could be reduced. Some would say well it cost more to be healthy, but that is just a lack of education. You will pay one way or another!

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Dave Ramsey his no nonsense approach to finance has certainly helped me over the years.

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!

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